Community Council Appeals Site Plan Approval for Proposed Parking Lot
ST. PAUL, NOVEMBER 13, 2019 — St. Anthony Park Community Council has filed an appeal to the City Council against the Planning Commission’s conditional approval of a site plan that would build industrial trailer parking on a highly contaminated site.
Among their concerns, SAPCC argues that potential air/waterborne pollutants could manifest at the Rohn Industries 2495 Kasota Ave. project because a historic ash dump underlies this site. The plan will excavate and stockpile topsoil on site, which will disturb the historic Elm Street Ash Dump and expose the underlying polluted material. The dump contains tons of partially incinerated ash from the City of Minneapolis and the U of MN.
Over 20 years ago, SAPCC filed an appeal against Amoco/BP’s plans to build a gas station on the same site. The City Council sided with the community at that time, recognizing the danger that it would pose to neighboring residents. The difference now is that with advancements in science, we know more about the hazards these underlying pollutants pose.
City staff have ignored SAPCC and the neighborhood’s concerns related to safety as well as their site-specific technical knowledge and history about this complex site in the review process, granting Conditional Approval on September 16, 2019.
SAPCC’s September 16, 2019 appeal to the Zoning Committee ended in a tied vote and was therefore sent to the Planning Commission with no recommendation. At its November 1, 2019 meeting, the Planning Commission again had a tied vote on approving the SAPCC appeal. The tie was broken by the chair, denying the appeal. Then a new Resolution, 19-54 – Conditional Approval of the Rohn Industries’ Site Plan for 2495 Kasota Avenue, was approved, following a subsequent tie vote, also broken by the Planning Commission Chair.
St. Anthony Park Community Council’s appeal of the approval of Resolution 19-54 and the site plan for 2495 Kasota Avenue presents errors in requirements, fact, procedure, and findings on seven of the 11 findings of the Planning Commission that were used to support approval of the site plan. It is the considered opinion of SAPCC members — whose professional and academic credentials include advanced professional degrees and years of experience — that there are only two sustainable options for the site: remove the polluted material and restore its original wetland condition; or leave it undisturbed.
Rohn Industries is a valued neighborhood asset and SAPCC supports their presence. SAPCC is willing to work with Rohn to explore other semitrailer storage options in or near the neighborhood. SAPCC also is committed to identifying long-term strategies and resources to protect these urban ponds and wetlands.
Since filing its initial appeal, SAPCC launched a petition and fundraiser to help pay the City’s appeal fees. You can sign the petition at chng.it/HBbdtxZPRj, and donate to the fund at givemn.org/story/Rohn-Appeals.